FEMA OKs $6.5M for repairs to Puerto Rico Coliseum, Bahía Urbana
The José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum and Bahía Urbana, two venues in San Juan dedicated to promoting the arts and entertainment sector, received a combined $6.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to return them to how they were before Hurricane María hit.
The federal funds will help the facilities be better prepared to face future disasters, the agency said.
In the case of the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, known as the “Choliseo,” the allocation of approximately $4.9 million is earmarked for permanent works.
“The reconstruction of these sites is part of the recovery of Puerto Rico’s economic sector. It also sets us on the road to a future where our structures are more resilient. Undoubtedly, these funds will help to develop a sector that contributes so much to us,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico, José G. Baquero.
The Convention District Authority, which oversees both facilities, confirmed that the entertainment industry in Puerto Rico produces nearly $2 billion per year and generates approximately 30,000 direct and indirect jobs annually.
Some of the works to be funded by the federal obligation include the removal and replacement of glass panels, sound equipment, fire alarms and acoustic ceilings, among others. In addition, $13,000 was earmarked for upgrading their lighting fixtures with surge protectors and replacing existing ceiling panels with water-resistant units.
“These facilities compete on a global level when people decide where they want to travel to and visit; they are factors that they consider, seeing that these facilities are in good condition,” said Convention District Authority Executive Director Mariela Vallines-Fernández.
“And for us to be able to present first class facilities to these tourists, means that we can compete on an equal footing with any other tourist destination,” she said, adding that other industries also benefit indirectly, including transportation, construction and food related, to mention a few.
Meanwhile, Bahía Urbana, a concept spanning some 87 acres of waterfront outdoor space and an area for artistic events along the San Juan bay, was awarded $1.6 million. These funds are earmarked for repairs for the water fountain pumping system, resin floors, cobblestones and electrical wiring in the dock area, among other things.
Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3, in Spanish) Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, said the funding earmarked for the two venues is important because it will enable them to continue fostering cultural development and attracting both foreign and local tourists.
“We’re certain that the attendance at these venues, which promote cultural activities, will surpass their pre-COVID-19 pandemic peak once its spread is controlled,” he said.
“At COR3 we will support the Puerto Rico Convention District Authority staff in the recovery of these iconic sites,” he added.